During my last four years on city council, from the time the Tohono O’odham publicly announced their intent to build a casino within Glendale, I would take notes from presentations and comments of staff regarding the casino’s impact on Glendale. While they retain the essence of the statements made, I did not have the time or opportunity to write the comments verbatim. The other day I was cleaning out some old folder files and I ran across the file where I had been keeping these notes. The following was represented to me and the rest of city council by staff from 2009 to 2012.
This was said with regard to the Nation’s gaming application— However, the issue of “first impression” within Arizona is a major one. It means that this action if granted would be precedent setting in that it would establish an Indian reservation where one did not previously exist. It may be the first attempt to do so in the nation. It is the first step to create a free for all system that establishes “off-reservation” gaming, not just in Arizona but in the nation.
Glendale staff in meeting with the Tohono O’odham attempted to ascertain more specific information. The Nation would not offer anything beyond conceptuals. Staff, after meeting with the Nation, offered the scope of the project as it was presented to them:
- 134 acres of land
- 1.2 million square foot complex
- Cost of construction approx. $550 million
- 6,000 construction jobs
- 3,000 permanent jobs
- 150,000 square feet
- 1,089 machines
- 50 tables
- 25 poker tables
- 1,000 seat bingo hall
- 480 rooms
- 120 suites
- 180,000 square foot convention center
- 40,000 square foot event center
- 30,000 square feet of retail
- 5 restaurants
- 1 food court
- 2 buffets
- 1 coffee shop
- 2 bars
- 1 nightclub
Issues identified by staff during the years of 2009 to 2012 included:
- City’s General Plan has area designated as Corporate Commerce Center with less density and impact.
- Sales tax revenue anticipated to be lost is $2 million a year or $40 million over 20 years as city cannot collect sales tax from federal land and that removes the land from producing sales tax for the city with other non-Indian uses.
- There are revenues that flow to the state from gaming. However 88% percent goes directly to the state. The other 12% is distributed to all cities and counties with no larger share or preference to the host city or county.
- The project will generate jobs but nearly all will be minimum wage employment.
- Gaming revenues siphon off discretionary income that could have been spent elsewhere in the City
- Staff projects water demand to be 600,000 gallons per day gpd (gallons per day). Projected wastewater demand to be 400,000 gpd. If they use the on-site well that is available to them it would impact our groundwater table.
- Estimated Impact fees loss is $299,500.
- Police estimate an additional 8,500 calls for service necessitating an additional 11 officers at a cost of $950,903. There is also the problem of suspects committing crime in adjacent areas and fleeing to reservation where Glendale Police have no jurisdiction. Anticipated calls for service expected to be high due to the casino being open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
- Fire anticipates the need for an additional fire station costing:
- 18 additional fire fighters
- $2.8 annually for Operating & Maintenance costs
- $14.6 million for land acquisition and construction
- In addition, there is no mutual aid agreement for off-site service (reservation). Can be negotiated perhaps but no guarantee of total cost recovery.
- Transportation estimates 20,000 one-way trips per day on weekdays and 30,000 one-way trips per day on weekends. It will generate 8.34 million additional trips in the area per year. There could be traffic conflicts on stadium and arena event days.
- There is a possible impact on the Northern Parkway Project. 225 feet of right-of-way is needed on the south side of Northern between the Loop 101 and 91st Avenue. Tribe may or may not participate.
There are several reasons why I decided to use my old, newly discovered notes. Despite the city council’s inappropriate action this issue is not yet decided. There is still Tribal litigation to be decided and there is still Congressional legislation pending. I would anticipate Referendum petitions on the 2 council actions taken on August 12, 2014. If successful, the voters will decide Glendale’s final position.
Another reason for using them is to ask the question, was this information given to the current council? With senior administrative staff knowing that a majority of council now supports the proposed casino, they may have thought it unwise to fully inform the council. That is no excuse. Council should have had this information. If council did have this kind of information and a majority chose to ignore it and its implications of cost to Glendale, then they are not serving the best interests of Glendale.
Lastly, it is information that should be public. The citizens of Glendale have the right to know that there are costs to Glendale that have not been addressed in the recently approved agreement. I would expect the current senior administration to disavow the facts presented above, especially with regard to water and public safety. They have been given their marching orders to embrace the casino project. The question remains, why weren’t these issues and the costs associated with them addressed in the approved agreement? So much for transparency.
© Joyce Clark, 2014
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